Editor's note: A short time ago, Serious Eater Ann Lemons contacted me about contributing some burger intel to A Hamburger Today/Serious Eats. "Sure thing!" I said. Here's the result. For more on St. Louis–area food, check out Lemons's blog: St. Louis Eats and Drinks. Enjoy! Adam
This is a fat hamburger, cooked over a flame and delivered, with a Bermuda onion slice and a pickle spear, on a thick, oval paper plate. Not surprisingly, they're cooked to order, and as big as these fellows are (10 ounces), this is not fast food.
The impatient may spend the waiting time with one of the housemade soups that change from day to day, and those who are burger-averse can consider the other specialty, a fine, freshly carved roast beef sandwich. O'Connell's isand always has beena place for eating and conversation. A TV set is used rarely except for the World Series. No music.
Reader, I married the columnist years later. And I watch as he and Jack laugh regularly about the subsequent years of prosperity that have brought new generations to chow down. Jack's nephew, Fred, took over active operation of O'Connell's a few years ago and pleased regulars by making no changes, but Jack is still around, selling antiques (furniture, not burgers) upstairs.
And while this is definitely an adult-oriented establishment, young ones are brought here to begin to learn the traditions of old-fashioned saloons where conversation provides the entertainment. En route to or from ball games or other events, it becomes deeply crowded, and as many as five different parties may be seated together at the long table in the second room. When it's quieter, one can find a reporter interviewing a famous author in a deep booth, or eavesdrop on a dating couple. Like the St. Louis Zoo, this is one of the city's great experiences-in-common, attracting a wide variety of visitors.
Travelers will be happy to learn that O'Connell's is a half-block from I-44; the eastbound exit is Kingshighway, and it's visible from the bottom of the exit ramp. Westbound, the exit is Vandeventer. To settle the hamburger, or to work up an appetite for it, the wonderful Missouri Botanical Garden is only three blocks east on Shaw Avenue.
Address: 4652 Shaw Avenue, St. Louis MO 63110 [map]
Notes: Lunch and dinner daily
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